The Role of Satellites for 5G and Beyond

Satellite systems are expected to play an important role in 5G and beyond wireless network systems. The vision of 5G is driven by the increased data rates and connection density, significantly reduced network latency, and optimized network efficiency. However, there are several use cases where standard terrestrial coverage is either not present or possible, making satellite systems uniquely positioned to provide a solution to bridge this gap. Satellite communication will play a significant role in 5G and beyond as a complementary solution for ubiquitous coverage, broadcast/multicast provision, aeronautical & maritime communications, emergency/disaster recovery, and remote rural area coverage. 

Recent years have also seen several advances in satellite systems and networks, allowing better efficiency, reliability, increased data rates, and new applications. By 2020-2025 there will be more than 100 High Throughput Satellite (HTS) systems using Geostationary (GEO) orbits but also mega-constellations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, delivering Terabit per second (Tbps) of capacity across the world. 

The new systems will encompass a multi-layer aerial component with LEOs, HAPs, UAVs, and drones. New cost-effective system architectures such as cubesat and Starlink systems should be considered. Some of the  standards organizations like 3GPP (Release 16 and now Release 17) have been working on these Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN). 5G and beyond 5G satellite systems have to meet the KPIs in terms of peak data rates, spectral efficiency, connection density, e2e latency, delay jitter, and mobility.

This vertical track is intended to be a forum where professionals from government, industry, and academia have been invited to present original contributions and their ideas. lt is also an opportunity to discuss the key challenges and integration of satellite systems to 5G and beyond. The 5G-Satellite Vertical track will include a keynote talk, invited speakers, and a panel session.

Some of the major considerations that this vertical would like to address include: 

  • New use cases for 5G and beyond 5G satellite systems, 
  • Edge computing applications in future satellite systems,
  • Machine learning and AI applications.


Keynote Talk

Paul Febvre, CTO Satellite Application Catapult, UK

Title: The future of Satellite-Terrestrial 5G system and service integration

Abstract: We are experiencing a massive societal transformation through the digital enablement of our world. The demand for connectivity for consumer and business continues to outstrip our ability to deliver services everywhere. The cost of rollout of wireless services into wider area is a major blocker to the productivity of rural and remote communities. Satellites could contribute to the solution, but current satellite systems are constrained by spectrum utilisation, and regulatory constraints on power flux density driven by a historic perspective on spectrum sharing between satellite and terrestrial systems.
The world is changing, the cost of manufacturing satellites and the access to space is dramatically falling, new materials such as flexible photovoltaic and lightweight composite structures, together with virtualised network functions and software radio platforms increases capability and flexibility. New paradigms such as megaconstellations are manifest, triggering significant investments in future constellations.
This talk outlines some of the opportunities that are driving the investment, and considers a number of future operational scenarios. To stimulate the imagination, a future concept for synthetic aperture communications satellites is described, able to deliver massive spectrum reuse and direct service delivery to future smartphones as an overlay to 5G.

Bio: Paul is Chief Technology Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult, responsible for establishing a future vision for the sector and directing the technology strategy for the Catapult. Paul leads a small team of solutions architects and technologists that work across the Catapult to provide industry support in the creation and realisation of technologically innovative solutions to real world challenges.
Prior to joining the Catapult, Paul was Design Authority for the Inmarsat BGAN system and responsible for managing Inmarsat’s activities under the European Space Agency (ESA) ARTES (Advanced Research Telecommunications Systems) programme. This included the Alphasat-Extension programme to integrate advanced technologies into the Inmarsat systems, and the Iris programme under SESAR (Single European Skies Advanced Research) joint undertaking to develop the next generation of aviation safety services for air traffic management communications systems over Europe.
Paul previously worked for many years at BT Research Laboratories in Ipswich, developing mobile and satellite radio communications systems, advanced modulation and coding, data transmission protocols, and information security architectures.


Invited Talks:

Dr. Konstantinos Liolis, Senior Systems Engineer, SES S.A., Luxembourg

Title: Satellite Integration into 5G and Beyond: Use Cases and Proof-of-Concept Testbed

Abstract: The presentation will address key satellite use cases for 5G and Beyond and provide an overview of SES relevant innovation activities with focus on its next-generation NGSO satellite constellation system O3b mPOWER. The presentation will also elaborate on an innovative proof-of-concept testbed for over-the-air experimentation, validation and demonstration of key technologies and vertical use cases for satellite integration into 5G and Beyond.

Bio: Konstantinos Liolis is Senior Systems Engineer at SES S.A., Luxembourg, managing technology innovation projects on satellite communications. Previously, he was employed as R&D Project Manager at Space Hellas S.A., Greece; Communication Systems Engineer at the European Space Agency, Research and Technology Centre (ESA/ESTEC), The Netherlands; and Research Assistant at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Cal-IT2), San Diego, USA. He has over 15 years of experience, both technical and managerial, in more than 40 contracted EU, ESA and National R&D&I projects in ICT with major focus on satellite communications. He has published more than 70 scientific papers in international peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings and book chapters, in areas mainly related to satellite communications. He has also numerous contributions to the ETSI, 3GPP, DVB and ITU-R international standardization bodies. He received the Dipl.-Eng. and PhD degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece; and the MSc degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), USA. He is PMI PMP® certified project manager and Member of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE). He received a Best Student Paper Award in IEEE RAWCON2006. He currently serves the Editorial Board of the Wiley’s International Journal of Satellite Communications and Networking.


Dr. Tomaso de Cola, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany

Title: Potentials and challenges of MEC implementation in B5G Satellite Networks

Abstract: Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) concepts have been out for already many years with particular interest and application in terrestrial networks where MEC was initially defined as mobile edge computing. In this respect, MEC has been exploited for both computation and caching purposes with the ultimate need to achieve a more flexible and efficient overall architecture and, more importantly, to minimize the service execution delay so as to approach the so-called concept of almost-zero perceived latency. Such a perspective is becoming even more attractive in the context of B5G where non-terrestrial networks (e.g., encompassing satellite systems too) are expected to be integrated with the rest of the telecommunication ecosystem. Initial studies have been already carried out around the use of MEC in satellite systems especially for boosting the access to content but a more holistic view on potentials and challenges is still missing. In particular, the advent of 3D satellite network with several space objects possibly interconnected dramatically multiplies the opportunities for exploiting MEC concepts, although also design limitations have also to be properly understood and taken into consideration. As such, this talk attempts to provide a general view on the different opportunities that can materialize in the context of integrated satellite-B5G networks and identifies some key research topics for further development and investigation from the scientific community in the very next few years.

Bio: Tomaso de Cola received the Master degree (with honors) in telecommunication engineering, in 2001, the Qualification degree as Professional Engineer in 2002 and the Ph. D. degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering, Robotics and Telecommunications in 2010 from the University of Genoa, Italy. From 2002 until 2007, he worked with the Italian Consortium of Telecommunications (CNIT), University of Genoa Research Unit, as scientist researcher. Since 2008, he has been with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), where he has been involved in several projects funded by EU and ESA programs, focusing on different aspects of DVB standards, CCSDS protocols, emergency communications, and testbed design. He has been taking part of different standardization activities within ETSI, IETF, DVB, and CCSDS, where he serves as deputy area director of the Space Internetworking Services (SIS). He is co-author of more than 70 papers, including international conferences and journals. His main research activity concerns: TCP/IP protocols, satellite networks, transport protocols for wireless links, interplanetary networks as well as delay tolerant networks, and communications strategies for emergency applications.
Dr. de Cola served on the Technical Program Committee at many IEEE International Conferences and as TPC chair for the satellite track in many ICC and Globecom editions. Has also been guest editor for IEEE JSAC and IEEE Wireless Communication Magazine; he is currently serving as associate editor for IEEE Communication Letters and IEEE Wireless Communication Letters. Finally, he has been the chair of the Satellite and Space Communications (SSC) technical Committee (TC) within ComSoc.


Dr. Paresh Saxena, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad, India

Title: Machine Learning for 5G/B5G Non-terrestrial Networks

Abstract: This presentation will focus on the potential applications of ML for 5G/B5G non-terrestrial networks. The first part will cover the fundamental concepts of basic machine learning algorithms including supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning. The second par t will elaborate on the classification of ML applications in the areas including physical layer communication, network planning & routing, positioning, security, resource management, etc. Finally, the presentation will also address the challenges in advancing ML techniques for 5G/B5G non-terrestrial networks and provide future research directors for how ML can contribute to realizing the integration of non-terrestrial components into 5G/B5G.

Bio: Dr. Paresh Saxena is an Assistant Professor in the Dpt. of Computer Science & Information Systems, BITS-Pilani, Hyderabad, India. He is currently leading a project MUT-DROCO (Multipath Networking Testbed for Drone Communications) funded by DST-SERB, Govt. of India and a project NANCY (Neural Adaptive Network Coding for video transmission over wireless networks) funded by TCS, India. Previously, he has been involved as a work package leader in two European Space Agency (ESA) funded projects: SatNetCode and HENCSAT, along with a work package member in European H2020 funded project Geo-Vision. He was a member of European COST action IC1104 from 2013-2016 and worked on the project funded by MITACS, Canada in 2008. He has been a visiting researcher in SFU, Vancouver, Canada in 2008 and Telecom ParisTech, Paris in 2010. During his PhD from UAB, Barcelona, Spain, he was awarded UAB Doctoral Fellowship Grant (P.I.F) from 2011-2015. Prior to his graduation, he was awarded with a National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) scholarship, India where he scored overall 11th rank in the country. His primary research focus is on the design and implementation of reliable and robust data transfer protocols for Non-terrestrial networks.


Prof. B. S. Manoj, Indian Institute of Space Technology and Sciences, India

Title: Dense LEO Satellite Networks: Opportunities and Challenges.

Abstract: The future generation of Internet services expect ultra-low latency, very high density of nodes, high throughput, and high reliability. The evolution of computer networks beyond 5G to support future Internet services is likely to be influenced by the emerging class of dense LEO satellite networks. Recently proposed dense LEO constellation networks such as Starlink and OneWeb provide better latency performance across continents than that can be provided by the optical fiber-based backbone of today’s Internet. Therefore, many futuristic services of the Internet may move over to the dense LEO clusters. However, the dense LEO clusters face many technological, operational, and research challenges. This talk focuses on opportunities and challenges offered by the dense LEO satellite networks.

Bio: B. S. Manoj is currently a Professor at the Department of Avionics, Indian Institute of Space science and Technology (IIST), Trivandrum, India. He graduated with PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India in 2004. He worked as a Post doctoral scholar, research scientist, and lecturer at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) till 2011. He joined as an Associate Professor at IIST Trivandrum in 2011. His research interests are in Next Generation Satellite Networks, 6G Networks, Wireless Mesh Networks, Cognitive Networks, and Complex Networks.


Panel Speakers

Prof Ifiok Otung, Professor of Satellite Communications, University of South Wales

Bio: Ifiok Otung is a Chartered Engineer and Professor of Satellite Communications at the University of South Wales (USW), UK. He earned a PhD in Satellite Communications from the University of Surrey, UK in 1995. His areas of expertise include Mobile and Satellite Communication Systems and Radio wave Propagation, where he has supervised many PhDs and contributed to numerous publications in technical Journals and international conference proceedings. In recent years he has collaborated with leading figures within the satellite industry to disseminate cutting-edge technological developments in the field and in this capacity is co-Editor of “Advances in Communications Satellite Systems” published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), London. Professor Otung is also the author of several major textbooks, including “Communication Engineering Principles” (Wiley, 2020) and “Digital Communications Principles and Systems” (IET, 2014).


Stefano Cioni, Communications Engineer, European Space Agency

Bio: Stefano Cioni received his Dr.-Ing. degree in telecommunication engineering and Ph.D. from the University of Bologna, Italy, in 1998 and 2002, respectively. Since 2002, he has been a senior researcher at the Advanced Research Center for Electronic Systems (ARCES) of the University of Bologna. In 2010, he joined the European Space Agency, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, where he is currently a telecommunication systems engineer within the Radio Frequency Systems, Payload and Technology Division. His research activities are mainly focused on the next generation broadcast/broadband satellite systems for fixed and mobile satellite services. In particular, his interests include efficient digital coding and modulation techniques, adaptive interference mitigation algorithms in multiple access systems, synchronization techniques, MIMO and OFDM systems, and iterative decoding techniques joint to channel parameter estimation.
Since September 2016, he has been attending the 3GPP RAN plenary and RAN-WG1 meetings, with the specific interest to support non-terrestrial network (NTN) aspects and to facilitate the 5G terrestrial/satellite networks integration.
He has co-authored more than 80 papers and scientific conference contributions, and he is a co-recipient of the Best Paper Award at IEEE ICT 2001 and at IEEE ASMS/SPSC 2012.
Dr. Cioni has been elevated to Senior Member of the IEEE Society in August 2017. Dr. Cioni has selected as recipient of the IEEE ComSoc Satellite and Space Communications Technical Recognition Award 2020.


Satellite Vertical Co-Chairs

Sastri Kota
Oulu University, Finland

Prashant Pillai
University of Wolverhampton, UK

Giovanni Giambene
University of Siena,Siena,Italy